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  • Filed under: Review
  • 11/15/2013

Kowton "H-Street" b/w "Helsinki Sunrise"

  • Words: Steve Kerr
  • Label: Pale Fire
  • XLR8R Rating: 8/10

As much as Joe Cowton has really solidified his style of punchy dance music in the last few years, every Kowton release still has a feeling of unpredictability. His drum patterns are usually abstract, stuttering structures, and tend to be coupled with subby pressure and influences from grime. Cowton has applied this foundation to an array of sides, though: moody slow house, urgent steppers, and even a remix of R&B singer Jeremih. "H-Street" b/w "Helsinki Sunrise," the latest 12" on his own Pale Fire label, leans toward the more bracing side of his repertoire.

Both tracks harken to Youngstar's seminal grime instrumental "Pulse X" with their stammering, high-energy drums and acidic bass stabs. "H-Street" is highlighted by claps so piercing they seem to cut the air, and its arrangement is all pull and release, clustered into fits, like it's boxing with some unseen opponent. "Helsinki Sunrise" lurches forward more apprehensively, laced with rapid-fire rimshots and punctuated by sirens; the bass has the same tone as its predecessor, but it's arranged more bulbously, perhaps filling the space left over by its moderately less aggressive rhythm. Cowton does not waste his time with melodic elements here, which practically ensures these tracks will be for club play only. This does not dampen their appeal, however, as their stripped-down construction pushes their uniquely serrated surliness to the fore.

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